If you have champagne tastes on a sparkling water budget, consider the delicate floral and citrus notes of prosecco. Made of glera grapes grown in Italy's Veneto region, prosecco was once thought a pale and far-too-sweet imitation of champagne, but more sophisticated winemaking techniques have elevated this simple sparkling wine to an affordable work of art.
Types of Prosecco
There are two main types of prosecco. The first and more expensive is referred to as "D.O.C." This stands for "denominazione di origine controllata," which means that this sparkling wine is made from glera grapes grown in northeastern Italy, between Valdobbiadene and Conegliano. This type of prosecco can be made partly from other types of grapes or even mixed with other wines, but it must contain 85 percent traditional and verified prosecco to be called Prosecco di Conegliano-Valdobbiadene, D.O.C. Wines made using glera grapes grown elsewhere can still be called prosecco only if they contain 75 percent actual prosecco. The difference in taste is negligible, but the difference in price is not. At the time of publication, a D.O.C. prosecco retails at as much as $22 while non-D.O.C. can be had for only $10.
Prosecco on Its Own
Prosecco is best served chilled and in a tall, slender glass. A champagne flute is traditionally festive, but a wineglass lets the bubbles to rise while also allowing contact with the air to develop the scent of the drink. Avoid using old-fashioned wide, shallow champagne glasses if you're serving prosecco on its own, because the large surface area and shallow bowl will cause the prosecco to go flat faster.
Mixing Prosecco Cocktails
Because of its lighter texture and more reasonable price point, prosecco is a delicious and cost-effective choice for mixed drinks. A classic Bellini cocktail, for example, is traditionally made with prosecco and peach puree. You can add peach liqueur for a stronger drink, or mix prosecco with a frozen mixed berry puree for a berry Bellini. Strawberry puree and prosecco is called a Rossini and is a refreshing brunch drink. Substitute prosecco for champagne in your orange juice to keep costs down when making mimosas for a crowd. Add a splash of Grand Marnier or triple sec for a deeper flavor.
Dessert Uses for Prosecco
The delicate sweetness of prosecco is a natural for light and refreshing desserts. Use prosecco to make zabaglione, an Italian dessert custard, or its French counterpart, a sabayon. Simply whisk together egg yolks, sugar and prosecco in the top of a double boiler until a soft custard forms, or whip the ingredients together in a bowl, pour into ramekins and bake in a bain-marie until just set. Serve the zabaglione with fresh berries and finish with meringue or whipped cream for a dessert that is both uncomplicated and elegant. For a dessert that is far less sweet, blend prosecco, lemon sorbet and limoncello to create a Sgroppino -- an Italian cocktail. Add a sprig of sage or mint for a flawless presentation.
Emmy-award nominated screenwriter Brynne Chandler is a single mother of three who divides her time between professional research and varied cooking, fitness and home & gardening enterprises. A running enthusiast who regularly participates in San Francisco's Bay to Breakers run, Chandler works as an independent caterer, preparing healthy, nutritious meals for Phoenix area residents.